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Fujita confirms progress is being made

Scott Fujita AP

The positive signs continue to emerge regarding the ongoing labor talks, which took on a new dynamic last week via negotiations occurring without the lawyers involved.

According to Will Burge of WKNR in Cleveland, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita said Friday that “progress is being made, slowly but surely.”

That’s good news, assuming that the progress continues.  At some point, things need to speed up, considerably.

Hopefully, that point is coming.

We’ve separately heard the NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith has been updating players from specific teams regarding the status of the discussions.  The obvious challenge in this regard comes from adhering to the court-mandated confidentiality while also giving the players useful information.

It’s too early to assume a deal is coming (notwithstanding a stray report that the lockout is “over,” which quickly was massaged without comment to “almost over”), but for the first time since the lockout began it’s becoming more and more clear that the parties are motivated to set aside the acrimony and focus on finding a win-win solution.  Both sides deserve plenty of credit for putting the interests of the game and the fans above short-term strategies aimed at finagling a “win” at the bargaining table, or in court.

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Vick surprises two grads with $5,000 scholarships

Michael Vick AP

As expected, Eagles quarterback Mike Vick gave the commencement address at the Camelot schools graduation ceremony on Friday.

As not expected, he presented two students with scholarships.

Per the Associated Press, Vick said that he would be giving $5,000 each to Monique Joseph and Rickey Savage.  Joseph will attend Penn State.  Savage plans to go to Virginia Union University.

“I heard a little bit about it yesterday, but I had no idea how generous he was going to be to our students,” Camelot CEO Todd Bock said.  “I think our kids, our schools and our story really resonated with him.”

Camelot has six locations in Philadelphia.   The schools serve roughly 1,800 students who have emotional, disciplinary, and/or academic problems.

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Jake Delhomme’s days with Browns “are numbered”

Cleveland Browns v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

Though it comes as no surprise considering Jake Delhomme’s recent performance and $5.4 million base salary for 2011, Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer confirmed in a Friday online video that the 10-year veteran quarterback’s days with the Browns “are numbered.”

“I think he knows it, the team knows it,” added Grossi, who predicted that the Browns’ third-string quarterback would come from the “undrafted ranks” or “maybe a very low-profile veteran free agent.”

Colt McCoy is the Browns’ projected starter, and Seneca Wallace was re-signed in March to back him up.

Delhomme, 36, threw two touchdown passes and seven interceptions in five appearances last year. Dating back to the 2008 playoffs, he has a beyond ugly 11:30 TD-to-INT ratio.

Grossi ended his video segment on Delhomme by opining that the longtime Panthers starter “is done as a legitimate starting competitor.”

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Raiders respond to AEG report: “The team is not for sale”

107344009_display_image Getty Images

Tim Leiweke of AEG said that the Raiders were “certainly” among the teams they have spoken to about purchasing and moving to Los Angeles.  It should come as no surprise the Raiders quickly released a statement saying this wasn’t true.

“The team is not for sale. It will remain with the Davis family,” CEO Amy Trask via Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune.

The wording is interesting, perhaps an indication that the organization will stay in the Davis family even after Al is gone.

Compared to the Vikings response to the AEG report, however, the Raiders response doesn’t leave any room for interpretation.  Very Raiders-like.

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Real change feels inevitable for college football

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Before you start dropping comments pointing out that this item has nothing to do with pro football, anything that globally affects pro football’s minor league system could affect, one way or another, pro football.

And it’s hard not to think that serious, profound, and fundamental changes are coming to college football.

The epiphany came during my Friday morning segment with Joe Rose of WQAM in Miami.  The conversation turned to Terrelle Pryor and then college football and then the possible changing of the rules, and while talking through the issues with Joe it all started to make sense.

So one of my weekend projects, if I choose to accept it, will be to reduce to writing down some of the various thoughts that emerged while talking to Joe, and to assess how this could all affect the NFL.

For now, you can listen to the segment with Joe Rose for a preview.  Or if I ultimately choose not to accept this self-imposed homework assignment.

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Brandon Marshall’s wife arrested for violating restraining order

Dolphins Marshall Football AP

Last month, Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall’s lawyers explained that Marshall would talk to police regarding the incident that resulted in Marshall getting stabbed by his wife if/when an order preventing Michi Nogami-Marshall from contacting her husband is dropped.

Apparently, Michi and Brandon Marshall decided to stop waiting.

According to CBS4 in Miami, Marshall’s wife has been arrested for violating the order that requires her to stay away from Marshall and the couple’s home.  “Clearly, the arrest today — based on her actions — she had to be taken into custody because she violated a court order,” a police spokesperson said.

She reportedly claimed that she was living in the home while Marshall was out of town.  Per the arrest report, he returned home, a verbal dispute arose, and someone called 911 and hung up.

The evidence is pretty clear.  The order requires her to stay 500 feet away from the home.  When police arrived, she was inside the home.

Marshall’s wife initially was arrested after stabbing Marshall on April 22.  She explained that she was acting in self-defense, which could explain Marshall’s decision to talk to police.

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Javarris James arrested for marijuana possession

James_Javarris

Colts running back Javarris James has been arrested for possession of marijuana.

Miami New Times reports that James was was arrested Thursday night by police in Fort Myers, Florida, and charged with misdemeanor possession.

Like his cousin Edgerrin James, Javarris grew up in nearby Immokalee, Florida before playing for the Miami Hurricanes and then the Colts.

As a rookie in 2010, Javarris James had 112 yards rushing and 63 yards receiving.

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Head of NFL Coaches Association explains, defends filing

NFL Coaches Association Executive Director Larry Kennan has received quite a bit of notice of late following his court filing in favor of the players and the subsequent reaction from staffs to it.

During an excellent PFT Live segment Friday, Kennan explained and defended the NFLCA’s brief, saying he is only concerned with operating in the best interests of coaches around the league.

It’s an interview that we recommend checking out in full if you want to gain a broader understanding of the NFLCA and the challenges that coaches face.  Or you can just watch the clip below.

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Vikings dispute AEG’s claim of relocation talks

MetrodomeGetty Getty Images

Well, this is getting interesting.

Not long after a meeting between AEG and the Vikings to supposedly discuss only the creation of an L.A. Live-style complex at Arden Hills, Minnesota, Tim Leiweke of AEG has included the Vikings in a list of five teams with which AEG has spoken regarding the possibility of a sale and relocation.

The Vikings are now tiptoeing around the stuff that came from Leiweke’s two lips.

Per Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com,Vikings V.P. of public affairs and stadium development Lester Bagley said that the team is “100 percent focused on getting the job done in Minnesota.”

Bagley also said there has been no contact with AEG since the May 24 meeting regarding the Arden Hills project.

“We believe we’re in position to get our situation resolved this year in a special session,” Bagley said.  “That’s where our energy is focused.”

So is now there a rift between AEG and the Vikings?  Hardly.  The Vikings are going to try to get a deal done in Minnesota.  And they can truly say they’re “100 percent focused” on making that happen.  If it doesn’t happen, a certain percentage of that focus may drift to California.

Indeed, consider Bagley’s words carefully.  At no point does he deny talking to AEG about a possible relocation.  He only says that the Vikings are focused on building a stadium in Minnesota.

Even if the Vikings never would move to Los Angeles, the specter of a Lakers-style exodus should be enough to get the people in Minnesota to realize that they could end up losing their NFL team.

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Team Checklist: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Raheem Morris AP

We’ve already written post lockout to-do lists for the Falcons, Panthers, and Saints.  That leaves Tampa Bay as the only team left in the NFC South. 

The Buccaneers are a rising team that will mostly grow from within. But they have a number of issues that need to be addressed in free agency.

1. Re-sign Davin Joseph.

We said earlier this offseason that the Bucs could probably only afford to re-sign Joseph or middle linebacker Barrett Ruud.  Joseph is more important, especially after the team didn’t address the offensive line in the draft.  He won’t come cheaply.

2. Find a middle linebacker, re-sign Quincy Black.

If Ruud leaves, the Bucs potentially have two starting linebacker jobs to fill.  Black is an underrated player that should be easy enough to bring back.  Mason Foster is a rookie third-rounder that could start in the middle, but that’s asking a lot.  A veteran is also needed.

Continue reading »

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PFT Live: Talking with Larry Kennan

Executive Director of the NFL Coaching Association Larry Kennan joins Mike Florio to discuss how the coaches fit into the labor dispute. Kennan speaks about the contested amicus brief, which 17 team’s coaching staff have spoken out against and more.

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PFT Live: Talking with Blaine Gabbert

Jacksonville Jaquars new QB Blaine Gabbert joins Mike Florio and shares his effort to raise money for Joplin, Missouri through his facebook auction, discusses his emotions on draft day, his new relationships with teammates including current QB David Garrard and his thoughts on the lockout and the upcoming season.

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PFT Live: L.A. talks heat up

Mike Florio speaks about the possibilites of an LA franchise in the NFL, the indications of teams preparing for July and the Houston Texans’ worst moments.

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Hall of Famers Johnson, Perry donate their brains

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Two teammates from the 1950s who died recently, both Pro Football Hall of Famers, donated their brains to a Boston University study of head trauma.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Joe Perry, who died in April at age 84, and John Henry Johnson, who died last week at age 81, agreed before they died to have their brains studied.

Perry’s widow, Donna, said she thinks her husband suffered brain damage in football and hopes the study of his brain can lead to a better understanding of what hits on the football field can do to the brain.

“When Joe was playing, they’d give them smelling salts and put them back in,” Donna Perry said. “Now the equipment is better, and they’re looking into ways to protect them. We have to look at what this is doing to our children.”

Johnson and Perry were both members of the 49ers’ “Million Dollar Backfield.”

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Worst moments in Texans franchise history

D. Carr AP

As a fan, would you rather experience a lot of pain or follow a vanilla franchise?

Texans fans would gladly sign up for a crushing playoff defeat at this point.

Call it the Icarus principle.  We’ve learned during our PFT Live series on the worst moments for every franchise since the ’87 strike that the closer a team flies to the sun, the more likely it is to get burned.

The Houston Texans remain unable to get off the ground.   Their worst moments in franchise history includes a surprising lack of Kris Brown (in the top four) and can be seen below.

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